GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Calvin men's basketball team welcomed the Trine Thunder to Van Noord Arena on Saturday afternoon. The contest marked the second matchup of the season between the Knights and the Thunder. In the first meeting of the year, Calvin claimed a 66-64 victory at Trine with junior Tony Canonie (South Haven, Mich./South Haven HS) converting on a game-winning layup in the closing seconds of play.
The Knights bounced back from Wednesday's loss, using a 21-2 second-half run to earn a 61-58 comeback win over the Thunder. Freshman Tony DeWitte (Grandville, Mich./Calvin Christian HS) notched a career-high 19 points (7-11 FG, 4-7 3-PT, 1-1 FT) in the victory.
"One thing I've said about this group is that they don't quit," said Calvin men's basketball head coach Kevin Vande Streek. "They just kept grinding it out. Great execution down the stretch."
"I really got after Tony DeWitte at halftime," said Vande Streek. "We need him, and he rose to the challenge. He just works so hard – basket cuts that led to layups and then he got some big threes. We've just struggled to score, so when Tony got hot and knocked down a few shots, it gave our defense a little spark as well."
With the win, Calvin improves to 11-8 overall with a 6-2 conference mark, remaining firmly in second place in the MIAA standings. The Thunder fall to 9-10 overall and 4-4 in the MIAA, two games behind the Knights in third place.
The lead changed hands a number of times early in the contest. Just under eight minutes into the game, freshman Derrick DeVries (Walker, Mich./Covenant Christian HS) knocked down a jumper to give the Knights a 13-12 lead. After two minutes of no scoring, DeVries hit another shot. A three-pointer by senior Cam Denney (Blufton, Ind./Norwell HS) capped off the 7-0 Calvin run.
The Knights held a six-point lead, but back-to-back triples by Trine's Kyle Dodson evened the score at 18 with 7:49 left in the half, forcing a Calvin timeout.
Trine's offense heated up late in the first half, as the Thunder went on an 8-0 run to earn a 10-point advantage. The Knights struggled to contain the visitors from behind the arc as Trine converted on 61.5% (8-13) of its three-point attempts, including three triples in the five minutes before halftime. At the break, the Thunder possessed a 32-24 lead over the Knights.
Early in the second half, five straight points from DeWitte brought the Knights within five points of the Thunder. However, Trine responded to DeWitte's scoring sequence, scoring the next four points to widen the gap to nine points.
Denney broke up the Trine momentum with a made jump shot, but only briefly. The Thunder proceeded to go on an 8-0 run. The Knights turned the ball over four times in the five-minute dry spell. With the midpoint of the second half approaching, DeWitte put in a layup to break the scoreless period, bringing the score to 47-34 in favor of Trine.
The Knights continued to chip away at the Thunder's lead, and with 9:15 remaining, DeWitte sunk a three to minimize the deficit to 10 points. Following a Trine timeout, Michael Welch (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) fed DeWitte who knocked down another triple. DeWitte scored the next six points of the game, including a four-point play.
DeWitte's run ignited the Knights offense as they reclaimed the lead from the Thunder after five straight points by Welch, including a big tie-breaking triple. When Trine called timeout with 4:36 left to play, the Knights held a 52-49 lead.
At the three-minute mark, the Thunder went on a 4-0 run to tie the score at 53. The Knights responded, scoring the next four points to regain their lead with 1:24 left on the clock.
With 15 seconds left to play, Trine's Adam Ciszewski was fouled and sent to the line to shoot two, the Thunder trailing the Knights 58-55. Ciszewski went one-for-two from the stripe to bring Trine within two.
Canonie was fouled on the following inbounds play and went one-for-two from the line as well.
After a Trine timeout, Calvin opted to foul to send Will Dixon to the line. He knocked down the pair of free throws to bring the Thunder with one point with four seconds to play.
In the next possession, Canonie was sent to the line shooting in the double bonus once again. This time, he sunk both free throws, forcing a last second three-point attempt by Trine. Myles Copeland chucked up a deep triple, but was off the mark, finalizing the Calvin comeback victory.
DeWitte led the Knights' offense with 19 points, all of them coming in the second half. Welch finished with 13 points, just one rebound short of a double-double with nine boards, and a team-high seven assists. Denney posted a double-double, finishing with a dozen points and a dozen rebounds.
Trine was led by Kyle Dodson who finished with 17 points. The Thunder capitalized on only one of 10 three-point attempts in the second half.
"I've talked to the guys for the past two days about how big of a game this was," said Vande Streek. "For our guys to get it done, I'm really proud of them."
The Knights are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Albion College. In the first meeting of the season between the two MIAA contenders, a jumper in the lane with 30 seconds left to play by senior Michael Welch lifted the Knights to a 71-70 victory. Tip-off of Wednesday's game is set for 8 p.m.